Because life is a series of edits

Learning About Limits, part 2

In Humanity on June 24, 2006 at 2:00 am

Three doctrines I feel the most limited in my understanding of are 1) the Trinity of God (that He is three in one); 2) the person of Christ (that he is both fully human and divine); 3) and the co-existence of God's sovereignty and man's choice (that he is sovereign over all of history and our lives, and yet we are responsible – and sometimes even significant – in history for our decisions). How do we explain away these tensions? How do we resolve the seeming contradictions?

We don't. We can't. And that's what frustrates us.

A lot of us assume our inability to know all we want to know (about God, about the universe, about what McDonald's does to french fries to make them taste so good) has everything to do with the Fall – if it weren't for the choice made in the Garden, we could be privy to all these secrets. And yet, going back to what I alluded to in my previous post, God's limitation of our knowledge was inaugurated before the Fall and had nothing to do with our choosing apart from him. In fact, even if Adam and Eve had never chosen apart from God, we would still be limited in our knowledge for no other reason than God ordained it to be so from the beginning.

Could this relieve some misplaced frustration that we can't know everything we want to about everything we want to? It should. We might not beat our heads as hard against a theological wall trying to understand the Trinity; we perhaps wouldn't spill so much ink as to whether Jesus was more like God or man in his nature; we possibly wouldn't struggle with the seemingly-contradictory ideas of God's sovereignty and man's will inhabiting the same existence (though this one is always the hardest for me to wrap my head around). It's just not for us to know.

Again, Genesis 2:16-17 tells us that, from the beginning – even a beginning of perfection – God placed limits on our knowledge; thus, no state of perfection (or lack thereof), no lack of capacity nor particular prohibition is the culprit of our limitations. Rather, our struggle today (as it was for Adam and Eve then), is not so much learning to live with the limits of our knowledge, but rather learning to live with the knowledge that God placed those limits upon us "in the beginning." This unwillingness to submit to God's limitations is what we really struggle with.

This, friends, is known as our sin.

(Note: Parts of this essay were inspired by/somewhat paraphrased from an unpublished article by Jerram Barrs entitled "Limitations of Knowledge." Used by permission.)


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